published Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

Bradley County's tornado recovery effort winding down

CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- The rebuilding effort after the April 27, 2011, tornadoes in Bradley County is winding down.

A new house is under construction on Randolph Samples Road for one family, while a groundbreaking ceremony is set for Thursday for another home on Lee Street. And the paperwork is in progress for the final home to be rebuilt because of the tornadoes.

The deadline for contacting the Bradley County Long Term Recovery Committee was in April.

"We are winding down," said Lisa Mantooth, caseworker for the committee, and that time came sooner than expected.

"That's an amazing thing," she said. "And it's because of all the collaboration from the community and others that have allowed us to really meet the needs."

Matt Ryerson, United Way of Bradley County president and CEO, said original estimates were that recovery could "take three years or more."

Five powerful tornadoes tore through the county just over 15 months ago, leaving nine people dead, many injured and hundreds of homes demolished or damaged.

Jim Polier, director of the Long Term Recovery Committee, has spent the time coordinating volunteer groups, including from Habitat for Humanity, Bradley Baptist Association, United Methodist Church, Salvation Army and out-of-town groups, with the families.

On Tuesday, the Church of God's Men and Women of Action razed the only damaged structure left on Lee Street, preparing the site for Thursday's groundbreaking. The goal is to be finished with the home by the end of December, although that could stretch into the new year, depending on the weather, officials said.

Contact staff writer Randall Higgins at or 423-314-1029.

about Randall Higgins...

Randall Higgins covers news in Cleveland, Tenn., for the Times Free Press. He started work with the Chattanooga Times in 1977 and joined the staff of the Chattanooga Times Free Press when the Free Press and Times merged in 1999. Randall has covered Southeast Tennessee, Northwest Georgia and Alabama. He now covers Cleveland and Bradley County and the neighboring region. Randall is a Cleveland native. He has bachelor’s degree from Tennessee Technological University. His awards ...

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